We are the Gentrifiers
We used to live in a monstrous condo building on Joe Shuster Way, a looped street so new that it isn’t recognized by mail-order stores. The building was on this unknown street to nowhere at the crux between Liberty Village, Parkdale and West Queen West. I preferred Parkdale while my partner, John, preferred Queen. Sometimes we’d walk down our smooth-paved street and wave goodbye where Queen and Dufferin meet, later waving hello at the same point to walk back to our individualized box together. Nowadays it’s a game to catch a glimpse of that block of cement and fake brick siding from different places in Toronto.
One hazy day last summer we skipped the war sounds of the air show and went to Toronto Island. When we got to the beach John pointed across the lake. There it was—the Godzilla of yuppiedom, chasing us to the far ends of the city.
Now, we live on the top floor of an older duplex on the edge of Bloordale. A few blocks down on Bloor there’s a health food store beside a Piri Piri chicken joint across from an Ali Baba’s. We love the short walk down our tree-lined street, wood smoke in the air, children’s hopscotch patterns half-rubbed out on the sidewalk. You might hear five languages on a trip to the pet store.
In my early twenties, in Vancouver, I lived in a series of run-down apartments made affordable on my student loan income by their proximity to the headline issues of the day: drug-peddling, prostitution, homelessness and crime. I dyed my hair dark and wore a scowl—I blended. Now I find that I no longer fit in those neighbourhoods. My light hair too freshly-cut, shoes too new, spring trench too clean.
Recently, on a brisk walk downtown I spotted a handsome black husky with bright white eyes and a tongue-flapping smile. I gaze into his clear eyes for a peek into his world. The dog keeps smiling while his human counterpart snarls through a curled upper lip. In front of his crossed legs his hat sits upturned holding a few scattered coins (someone’s change from a venti gingerbread cappuccino).
“Dogs have been living outside since before you bought your condo,” he barks at me. The unease of being misunderstood washes over me. It must be the prim coat, I think. The army-jacket of my twenties meant older ladies held their purses tight and store owners sauntered down aisles I perused; now, some unidentifiable quality emanates from my core that makes the same people ask me for directions and try to sell to me.
The weather-worn folds of his skin contrast with intense eyes that match his dog’s. He sees my cravings outright: safety, community. No longer the recklessness of my youth. This city has changed me, or I have changed in this city. Somehow the distinction matters little. I let general Canadianness take over and smile my apology at his grimace.
by Wayne Chan | May 3rd 11:55 am
My daily commute is like a small gear of mechanical time, of epicycles upon epicycles, where days turn to months and to years, and the seasons cycle through. The rhythms of time are constant, but the changes they bring are not.
by george ilsley | May 3rd 1:44 pm
The neighborhood of Broma in Vancouver (around Broadway and Main) used to have salmon streams and a temperate rainforest. Now it has hipsters.
by Brendan Harrison | Apr 12th 12:54 pm
When white supremacists moved into my neighbourhood, I was forced to reconsider what community meant to me.
by Monica Meneghetti | May 2nd 11:45 pm
Queer Banffites come in every stripe but, like other wildlife, most of us are well-camouflaged.
by Christin Geall | May 3rd 10:16 pm
In my neighborhood, houses float out to sea. They’re jacked up from their foundations, lifted onto trucks, and barged away.
by Kali Thurber | May 3rd 10:16 am
A move between cities and then between neighbourhoods helps a woman acknowledge how she has changed from a reckless 20-something to an adult with a desire for a safe and diverse community. When faced with implied accusations by a panhandler she sees how the two cities have perceived her differently.